Girls Basketball Preview: Dreads bring experience, skill and championship expectations into 2021  

Lauren Snider Thompson took over the highly successful Dexter girls’ basketball program last year after 11 seasons as an assistant coach and kept the Dreadnaughts among the elite teams in the area.

Dexter finished 17-5 last year and shared the SEC White Division title with Chelsea before falling in a District semifinal game.

Thompson has a lot of experience and talent returning for their 2021 run along with a lot of familiar faces.

“I have been coaching this senior class since they were in fifth grade,” says Thompson. “We are a selfless team with incredible chemistry. They support one another and want to see each other be successful.”

And this team has what it takes to be very successful and compete again for an SEC White Division title.

“We have many consistent shooters and ball handlers,” Thompson says. “This team likes to work and has set goals to outwork every team we play. We want to be the team that is outrebounding the other team, diving for loose balls, and taking charges. We are grateful to play this year and want to make the most of the opportunity to play.”

The keys for Dexter including taking advantage of their strengths and improving any weaknesses – which are few to begin with. The Dreadnaughts complement each other very well and need to make sure they understand how to use each player effectively.

“We also need to make sure we continue to focus our attention as much on defense as we have on our offense,” Thompson says. “When you have great shooters it’s easy to make that the focus, but we need to give that same attention to our defensive game.”

Here is a look at some of the key returning players for the 2021 Dexter Dreadnaughts with a breakdown from Coach Thompson.

Sydney Pnacek: Junior, 5’10 Forward – Her third year on varsity, Sydney is a consistent 3-point shooter who shot 31 percent from the 3-point line as a sophomore. She is smooth and effective. Sydney has an incredible work ethic and continues to work on her game. Sydney was All-SEC last year as a sophomore. We will look to Sydney to be a scorer and leader. She is a captain this year.

Alayna Babut: Senior, 6-0, Center/Forward – Alayna is also a third-year varsity player. She is experienced and looks more confident than ever. Alayna also shoots 40 percent from the field, which is rare for a post player.

Maddi Valentine: Junior, 5-7, Guard – Third year on varsity, recovering from an ACL injury. She is back and stronger than ever.

Brianna Rodriguez: Junior, 5-5, PG – Third year on varsity. She is an incredible defensive player, shooter and has the ability to get to the rim. We look for her to have a big year. Brianna was honorable mention All-Conference.

Kylee Niswonger: Senior, 5-6, Guard – Fourth year varsity player. She has committed to play field hockey at the University of Maryland. She is an incredible athlete, with immense toughness. She was honorable mention as a freshman, and All-Conference as a sophomore. She is a captain this year.

Shannon Schoch: Senior, 5-10, Post – Shannon is a captain this year, and the hardest worker on the team. She is also hands-down the best rebounder on our team as well. We will look to her to provide a spark for us defensively and to be a floor leader.

Kayla Rivers: Senior, 5-6, Guard – Kayla is physically strong and a phenomenal shooter. Kayla runs the floor very well and has beautiful shooting form. Kayla also is not afraid to mix it up and be physical. We will look to her to be a consistent scorer and rebounder.

Livvy Mellifont: Senior, Student Coach – Livvy will be a part of our team as the team student coach. We will look to Liv to be our hype man, and help keep our motivation and enthusiasm high during practices and games. Liv is a crucial addition to our coaching staff and a critical component of our team.

Top new players on the team this year include sophomore guard Chloe Perry and junior post players Ashley Mitchell and Maggie Lewis.

Dexter opens the season Tuesday (Feb. 9) at Farmington Hills Mercy. The Dreadnaughts first SEC game is at home at 7 p.m. on Thursday (Feb. 11) against Pinckney.


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